The Blues host Burnley on Monday, kicking off at 8:00pm local time at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United all lost at the weekend, which means Chelsea have the greatest opportunity to make up ground in their race for a top four position.
Our Form: W-W-W-L-W
Chelsea have qualified for the semi-finals of the Europa League, and its Eintracht Frankfurt that awaits us. At this stage of the season, Chelsea still have two bites of the cherry and to get in the Champions League for next season, but they cannot lose focus on either avenue in us getting there.
It would be fantastic for Chelsea to win another European trophy, our third in 7 seasons, but we must see that competition as a bonus, and hope we get over the line in the Premier League as a first priority. After Burnley on Monday, we have to take a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, before finishing the season with Watford and Leicester. So, every game from now until the end of May will need Chelsea to performing to their best, and we can’t afford too many horrific away games – which we have been so accustomed to throughout the season.
Mauricio Sarri decided to play a full strength team against Slavia Prague on Thursday to make sure the job was done, as we started fantastically with 4 goals in 27 minutes. However, the Achilles heel for Chelsea is their slow start in the 2nd half of the game. Slavia Prague managed to get two goals in the second half, as they lost 4-3 narrowly on the night as we finally got over the line.
The problem is that our slow second half starts has been a reoccurring theme. Cardiff, Everton and Liverpool have scored directly after the half time interval in recent matches, and we cannot make that a habit going into these crucial run-in fixtures.
Opposition: Burnley (L-L-W-W-W)
Burnley come into this match off the back of three victories. They lost at home to 10 man Leicester back in March, and their position at the time was increasingly unstable. However, huge victories against Wolves, Bournemouth and then Cardiff, has virtually kept them safe in the Premier League for another season.
With the pressure off them, that may or may not have a positive effect, but with Sean Dyche in charge, you’d expect them to come to Stamford Bridge and put on a valiant display. Ashley Barnes is a threat that we are fully aware of, and Chris Wood is another striker that is in good form having scored three in his last two outings.
Head to Head
Chelsea have a dominant record against Burnley, having won 6 out of 9 previous Premier League meetings. In the reverse fixture back in October, goals from Loftus-Cheek, Morata, Barkley and Willain saw us win 4-0 and remain undefeated in the Premier League, occupying 2nd spot.
Burnley have beat Chelsea once in their Premier League stints, and that came at the opening day last season, when they took a 3-0 lead against us, the defending champions. We fought back in the match, and were close to not scraping a draw, as it finished 3-2. No repeats of that this time please.
Eden Hazard picked up an injury against Slavia Prague, but he is expected to return to the side. Anthony Ruddier will not be available, as he is still injured from picking up that knee injury in the defeat to Liverpool.
Key Burnley midfielders Aaron Lennon and Steven Defour are still side-lined, but Phil Bardsley will potentially return to the side after missing the last two matches.
Chelsea will get the victory. Burnley have been involved in a tough relegation battle all season, and now their status is virtually secured, which means that when they go 1-0 down here, they’ll start to wave the white flag. The opening 30 minutes on Thursday night, and the much needed extra day rest, will surely give us confidence of getting an important three points here.
Goal scorers: Eden Hazard, Willian and Giroud.